Day 249: Save Your Life

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I have come to believe that self-love is the answer to not drinking.

If you loved yourself like you would a child, would you force poison down your own throat?

Dramatic, I know. But true.

I once decided, in a desperate attempt to somehow penetrate the thick fog surrounding my hung-over brain, to perform an experiment on two basil plants on my windowsill. I would water one basil plant, and give the other one only wine.

There was a few inches of warm wine in a glass from the night before. I started to pour the leftover wine into the plant, but then I noticed how beautiful its little green leaves were … how the intricate veins of green wound through the leaf’s surface … how perfect this plant  was that had been placed in my care.

And I couldn’t do it. I rinsed the wine out quickly and watered it to wash out what had absorbed in the soil, mentally apologizing to the plant for my complete lapse in judgment.

It wasn’t until years later, when describing this experiment in a meeting, that this occurred to me: I wouldn’t do this to a plant, but I would do it to myself.

I was dumbstruck, but it was true. I wouldn’t get help for myself, as if I didn’t matter. A plant mattered more.

Why was this? I knew it wasn’t always this way. I had changed, and not for the better.

I know now that alcohol’s slow beat of destruction gets you to this point. The step-by-step stripping away of your self worth. It’s sneaky, and if you don’t pay attention, you won’t notice it until it’s done a lot of damage.

I suddenly had an overwhelming compassion for the child that I once was. I felt tremendous love and sadness for myself, for a little girl that once had dreams of doing great things, but first and foremost, wanted to be loved.

How I had betrayed her.

I realized everything had to change. Not just by stopping the flow of poison … I had to change everything about the way I saw myself in the world.

I had to start treating myself like a beloved child. What would I want my daughter to do in a similar situation? I would want her to see her value … what I could see so clearly. I would want her to see the incredible wonderful spirit that she is and do whatever she had to to love herself enough to heal.

And that’s where I am today. Reminding myself what a beloved child of spirit I am, and so worth anything I have to do on my own behalf. To bring myself back from the brink is no less worthy than saving someone else’s life. It’s the bravest and most loving thing I could ever do.

24 thoughts on “Day 249: Save Your Life

  1. Wow! What a powerful metaphor. Would you give a plant, animal or a child alcohol? No way, because it is poison!
    This is so true. For me, over and above the self-medication of depression and anxiety it was a form of self-harm because I didn’t (still don’t really) feel completely worthy. I’m glad you couldn’t kill the poor plant.
    Thank you for the lovely post. xxx

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    1. Thank you! You’re so right about the self-mediating. At first it feels like you’re loving yourself when drinking because it relieves all of these uncomfortable feelings. Then it starts to create the feeling you were trying to avoid in the first place, times ten. It’s the perfect trap really.
      Cheers to hanging onto the life raft for another day. ; )

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny you say that, but women who drink too much are the most loving and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. I think the drinking is kind of a shield to make the world bearable for them. I tear up too when I am reading someone’s blog about not being worthy. It’s heartbreaking. ; )

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  2. That’s a beautiful post. I agree with asobermiracle that we female alkies are some of the most loving and kind-hearted people. The problem is that we don’t extend that same kindness to ourselves. I’ve seen too many women do 4th Step inventories which they use to beat themselves up for the mistakes they made while drinking. We’d give anyone else a break on those same things, but we are merciless to ourselves.
    I went so far as to locate an old picture of myself as a child. I hung it on the wall of my office where I do my “work” on the computer. Just when I’m about to think of myself in a cruel fashion, I take a look at that child I once was. Geez, I was really cute!!!
    When you do a 4th Step, or if you do one, also include the GOOD things about yourself. I challenge you! Most of us have no problem coming up with the negatives, but we can’t even access that part of our minds that remind us of the good.
    I really like that image of the plant. I hope you remind yourself of it the next time you feel like picking on yourself. It doesn’t even have to be about taking a drink. The booze just is a symptom of our self LOATHING.
    For today, love yourself. You have MY permission!!!

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  3. Gulp! Similar to Red I found myself anthropomorphising a plant and feeling real sadness for it but yes I too was happy to poison myself for too long. Consciously or unconsciously I have shifted towards loving myself or at least trying to love myself. I bought a dress today, not a big deal for most but for me this was HUGE and I mean HUGE. I didn’t look drop dead gorgeous and the dress wasn’t the most amazing thing ever but…… I did not stand in the changing room staring in the mirror berating myself for my all the faults I can see on my 47 year old overweight body. I just thought I look ok, I look good enough, I look like someone who is trying to make an effort and that is all I need to achieve right now. I came home and tried the dress on with hose and heels then went back and exchanged it for the smaller size, I allowed myself to recognise the dress was swimming on me.
    Sorry to make that ALL ABOUT ME but I get what you are saying, like totally get it and today I experienced it in technicolor for the first time. Last year I would have only seen the faults, cried in the changing room, thought what’s the point, hung the dress up and gone and bought wine to try and forget the humiliation.
    I love you insight and this post resonated with me so clearly today. Thank you for this and sorry for the long comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE long comments! And I understand exactly what you mean by listening to that awful inner voice that somehow becomes a habit over the years. I have to give myself permission mentally to think “I look OK today.” To accept my age a little and not compare myself to anyone else. And really, it should be all about you. And when you think about it, when has it ever been remotely about you? I think we give so much of ourselves on a regular basis that to even think about our own needs is somehow selfish. Like there is something wrong with self love. I know my mother’s generation thought such things were shameful and selfish, and I am sure that came across in my upbringing. I remember asking her “How do I look?” and her saying “Well who do you think is looking at you?” In other words, nobody cares what you look like. There’s a message in there that it’s wrong to even ask the question, because it’s “vain.” Vanity and self love are not the same thing. And you’re right … wine was a great way to “love” yourself and treat yourself for a while, until it became another source of self-destruction. And now we get to add the “shame” related to addiction. Only in repudiating the whole pile of BS and getting to the core of the problem — that we are worthy — do we begin to feel worth the effort to heal.
      I’m so glad this resonated with you, Ginger. xoxo

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  4. I just started reading your blog and I see a lot of similarities. I love your honesty and humor. My awful inner voice is screaming at me right now on Day 1 and all I can think about is how I have failed at this so many times. How miserable I am and desperate to get off this “crazy train.” I have not lost anything because of my drinking (except my dignity and self-respect), but I know I don’t drink like a normal person, I know I have a problem and that I need to stop, not moderate, stop forever….So why haven’t I? Why am I like this? Thank you for writing. I am going to keep reading and hope that I figure this out.

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    1. Thank you Katie! That means the world to me, especially because I sometimes get concerned that I will be “outed.” If I think being open like this will help someone like me, then it’s all worth it. (Until the next round of self-doubt. But I’m winning the battle!)
      I have decades of journals that restart Day One over and over again. I have been in a holding pattern most of my life — drinking, regretting it, starting day 1, giving up, drinking more, regretting more …. I’ve often thought that I have a ton of sobriety if you just add up all the day 1s,2s, and 3s. Don’t give up Katie! I feel like we are “practicing” sobriety, building up our arsenal of experience and reasons to quit. It can really only reach one conclusion in the long run, because it doesn’t appear that we get to start over. ; )
      Why not start an anonymous blog? The outpouring of support is amazing. I have never been an online community person in any respect, but somehow this clicked.
      I look forward to getting to know you. ; )
      xoxo, Shawna

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